Qatar remains a viable seedbed for different startups and offers entrepreneurs a host of opportunities to transform their innovative ideas through different programmes and access to funding, according to a report released recently by the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar).
In its first ‘Invest Qatar Annual Report 2021’, the agency stated that the country’s startup ecosystem “is also making strides in expanding and improving the environment for startups to thrive and innovate.”
According to the report, the Tasmu programme, launched by the then Ministry of Transport and Communications, was a key player in expanding Qatar’s ICT sector through building connections between the public and private sector, providing funding, and empowering startups.
The report also noted that the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) also took several initiatives to foster innovation in the country, including partnerships with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Microsoft.
The funding available for startups has also increased significantly in Qatar compared to the previous year, the report emphasised, citing Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) as the “second-highest investor in the region.”
Despite the pandemic, the report said Qatar has succeeded in building momentum to launch new programmes, initiatives, events, and partnerships to encourage technological innovation and further rejuvenate the startup ecosystem.
A number of events, including ‘Qatar FinTech Summit’, ‘Qatar Innovation Week’, and ‘Qitcom’ – the largest information and communication technology showcase and event in Qatar – were held since 2019, the report stated.
According to the report, Qatar’s growing economy offers investors lucrative opportunities while bringing progress to development and diversification goals across sectors and geographies.
As the country continues to pursue its economic diversification objectives, the report noted that many opportunities, especially in the non-hydrocarbon sector, have become available for investors.
On foreign direct investments (FDI), the report stated that Qatar’s effective economic management during the pandemic and future growth projections are also evidenced in its FDI flows. During the height of the crisis, while FDI flows fell in most countries, Qatar demonstrated resilience, and FDI flows into Qatar recovered in the last quarter of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021, it also stated.
“In 2021, most of the foreign investments originated from the US (22%), with a total investment of QR895mn. Switzerland accounted for 14% of the total FDI flow, followed by Cyprus and Kuwait. Other countries that invested in Qatar include India, Germany, Canada, the UK, France, and the UAE among others,” said the report.
The report stated that despite the challenges the pandemic posed on global job markets, Qatar was able to demonstrate the resilience of its economy. Investors leveraged Qatar’s strategic location, vibrant environment for innovation, and business-friendly ecosystem to expand their business in the region, and in the process, created quality jobs for the local population and attracted global talent to Qatar.
“In 2021, FDI inflows to Qatar created an estimated more than 4,200 jobs. Most of the jobs were created in the software and IT services, with this sector generating close to 20% of the total jobs. Building materials, food and beverages, business services, and communication also created a good number of jobs in 2021,” the report stated.